Prized for its silky mouth feel and distinct flavor, Karlssons began in 2001 when a group of Swedish potato farmers sought a way to improve their business. At the behest of Peter Ekelund—well-known as an entrepreneur who had helped launch Absolut in the 1970s—the group began working together as a collective and immediately saw an uptick in demand for their Swedish-grown spuds.
This success spurred another idea—to make a vodka from the many varieties of local virgin potatoes. Ekelund brought on Börje Karlsson, a former colleague and master vodka blender (he’s the guy who created the original recipe for Absolut vodka), to create a vodka from the crops of these local farmers. From this was born Karlsson’s Gold, a blend of potato spirits that lend the small-batch vodka its signature taste. Master Blender Börje Karlsson blends the individual spirits and vintages from seven different potatoes, all of which are grown in Sweden’s Cape Bjäre region. Karlsson finds that these potatoes are much like grapes, with noticeable variances from season to season. When sampling the spirits he realized that some of them were exceptional on their own, and the idea for Karlsson’s Batch was born.
The first single varietals worthy of Mr. Karlsson’s small batch mission were distilled in 2004, but this limited-edition Karlsson’s Batch 2008 marks the brand’s first major single-varietal vodka expression commercial release, made exclusively from Gammel Svensk Röd (Old Swedish Red) new potatoes harvested in 2008. The label bears the name of the farmer, Bertil Gunnarsson, along with the property from which it was harvested and the bottle’s number in the edition. The vodka is very distinctive, and unlike blended vodkas that aim for even palate, has a sharp and complex flavor profile.
This deconstructionist concept is a bold move in a market dominated by expansion almost exclusively from flavored vodkas; it’s more often seen in the domaines of champagne and whiskey. Karlssons may be the first spirit brand to embrace this approach.
Karlsson’s Batch 2008 is restricted to 1,980 bottles, the majority of which are headed for select retailers, bars and restaurants in the U.S. market, including New York’s PDT, Del Posto, Craft and Astor Center, among others.
If you miss out on this edition stay on the lookout for the second Batch release in Fall 2012, featuring the Solist varietal from 2009.